Yes, yes, today I have the pleasure of interviewing a guy who always manages to make me laugh in the facebook groups we are in. Not only that but he’s an author of epic fantasy, M. Edward McNally. As a double treat, I also got to interview his character Matilda Lanai from his Musket & Magic Fantasy, the Norothian Cycle. (The Sable City, Death of a Kingdom, The Wind from Miilark)
Terry Simpson: What is your book about?
M. Edward McNally: Muskets, Magic, and Matilda Lanai. 😉
Terry Simpson: How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
M. Edward McNally: Hard to say. For about a ten year period I had stopped writing fiction, but during that time I had a “world-building” hobby. Just on a lark, I sort of designed a primitive world where magic functioned as much as technology, and made my way through several centuries of cultural, political, and economic evolution. It was kind of like a game of “Civilization” I played in my head.
While my intention was not to write a series of Musket & Magic Fantasy books, or even one book set in my world, a few years ago some of the people “living” there started talking to me. I didn’t have a choice after that, as Tilda Lanai is kind of pushy. 😉
Terry Simpson: What inspired you to write this particular story?
M. Edward McNally: This story specifically started to roil because of two different images I got in my head. The first was of a lone young woman on a grassy steppe, under a gray sky. She was walking slowly toward a wounded warhorse, holding out a bright red apple in one hand. That turned out to be Tilda.
The other image was of a samurai and a Roman Legionnaire fighting shoulder-to-shoulder to hold a foot bridge against an army. Not geographically or temporally possible in the real world, of course, but an image that stuck with me, and inspired two supporting characters.
Terry Simpson: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
M. Edward McNally: My favorite is Tilda Lanai, as she would not let me say anything else. The story, and series, are complex, with several diverging plotlines moving in time with the main one, but Tilda is the central figure around which the others depend. It really is her story, I’m just writing it down.
Terry Simpson: Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?
M. Edward McNally: Not sure how “likability” factors in, but for me the most unusual is a sorceress named Nesha-tari, who is half-Lamia. On her mother’s side. You know: Attract men, then eat them to live. She is also however half-human, so her efforts to live with herself while doing what she must to stay alive were interesting for me to try and handle as a writer, and hopefully will be the same for readers.
Terry Simpson: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
M. Edward McNally: I’m a “pantser” as a writer and a believer in character first. Once I know (or think I know) who the players are, and what they want, I basically start writing just to find out for myself how they get to where they are going. Of course that means the re-writing/editing stage is critical for me, to make sure there is a story being told.
Terry Simpson: How has your background influenced your writing?
M. Edward McNally: Though I am writing in the Fantasy genre, the motifs are probably less “Medieval European” than is typical. There are as many Polynesian, Central American, and Asian influences to the cultures involved. This may be the result of being a “mutt” myself: A half-Irish/half-Mexican from the US “South.”
Terry Simpson: Have you ever had difficulty “killing off” a character in your story because she or he was so intriguing and full of possibility for you, his or her creator?
M. Edward McNally: Totally. I wrote one of these series books completely convinced a particular character was going to die at the end. They wouldn’t go down. Bent the plot significantly in a direction I did not think it was going to go, but actually when things like that happen they are some of my greatest joys as a writer.
Terry Simpson: Have you written any other books
M. Edward McNally: In addition to the fantasy series, I have a number of short story collections (mostly of the “contemporary” genre) available for free from most retailers (though a couple are still 99 cents on Amazon. They are all titled “Eddie’s Shorts – Volume #.”
Terry Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?
M. Edward McNally: Easiest place is on my blog at. http://sablecity.wordpress.com/
That is both the homepage for the series, where additional background materials (maps, glossary, histories) can be seen, as well as the place where I mumble about writing, interview fellow authors (every Tag Line Tuesday) and the like.
Without further ado, meet Tilda Lanai
Terry Simpson: Who are you?
Tilda Lanai: Who am I? You asked me here, right? Sorry. I’m Matilda Lanai, but my friends call me Tilda. Actually, everybody calls me Tilda.
Terry Simpson: Where do you live?
Tilda Lanai: The port of Souterm, in the Empire of the Code, at the moment. Though that’s mainly because I can’t go home to the Islands right away until some issues with my Trade House…or former Trade House, anyway…get worked out. Also, I’m sort of moving around a bit here in town as there is this detective of the City Watch who thinks I murdered a gem merchant. Which I did not do. I *did* try to sell him a necklace with a Devil’s Curse on it, but…it’s kind of a long story, actually.
Terry Simpson: Are you the hero of your own story?
Tilda Lanai: Everybody is the hero of their own story. (wink)
Terry Simpson: What is your problem in the story?
Tilda Lanai: Oh, to have just one! That would be wonderful! But really, since I arrived on the mainland about a year ago, I’ve had any number of problems. Or at least, I’ve made friends with people who have problems, which for me is the same thing. If you are my friend and you have a problem, it is my problem, too.
Terry Simpson: Do you embrace conflict? / Do you run from conflict?
Tilda Lanai: Neither. I find it easier to sneak up behind conflict and whack it in the head with a club.
Terry Simpson: How do your friends see you?
Tilda Lanai: I hope they know that I mean it when I say they are my friend. Where I am from, the Miilark Islands, we don’t give friendship away that easily. It means something to us when we do, and it’s for life.
Terry Simpson: How do your enemies see you?
Tilda Lanai: Again, I’d prefer they didn’t see me coming.
Terry Simpson: Do you have a hero?
Tilda Lanai: I did, he…um…he didn’t make it. It’s kind of hard to talk about, wasn’t that long ago. Sorry.
Terry Simpson: What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?
My Guild Cloak. I trained as a Guilder in the service of House Deskata for three years, and the cloak is sort of the sign of that, for an Islander. It’s black, which is handy at night, and the inner lining of emerald green represents my House…or what was my House, rather. Nice triangular cut, too, so I can get my hands inside in case I need…anything that it otherwise conceals.
Also, as I technically left the Islands a month before completing Guild training, this wasn’t a graduation gift. I had to buy it myself, and I am *not* taking that as a loss, even when it gets…um…soiled.
Terry Simpson: Do you keep your promises?
Tilda Lanai: Always.